“Jesus with us and among us”

Batu Ferringhi Baptist Church.

2016 July 31th

 “Jesus with us and among us”

David Z.

 

Psalm 23(KJV)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

 

Psalm 23 is a very well-known scripture.

It is short. There are only 6 verses to it.

It is comforting.

It is encouraging, and it has a good ending.

First, I like to bring your attention to v4

 

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

 

There are quite a few interpretations of the “rod” and “staff”. But I like to address one important issue.

Imagine a herd of sheep going through valleys and mountains.

Has anyone ever seen a “rod” and a “staff” floating in the air moving on its own?

And those sheep were staring at that “rod” and “staff” floating in the air.

What am I trying to say here?

 

That “rod” and “staff” implied the presence of the shepherd

 

It was the shepherd who was holding the “rod” and “staff”.

The sheep recognized the presence of their shepherd, therefore they feel safe.

Let’s look at v4 again –

 

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

 

Imagine those sheep going through “the valley of the shadow of death”.

Sheep know it’s not a nice place to be, but what’s important is the next destination beyond that “valley of the shadow of death”.

 

That “valley of the shadow of death” is a passing process

 

The sheep know they will not be there forever.

They should not be there forever, and they were looking forward to a better place, wherever the shepherd will lead them to.

 

Shepherd move sheep from place to place for green pastures and water

 

In “the valley of the shadow of death” there will be fear and uncertainty

 

Fear of the unknown

Uncertain of the future

Sense of danger

 

But these sheep going through “the valley of the shadow of death”, they had no fear.

What happened? Did they become “super-sheep”? No

Did they suddenly become empowered with some sort of super-power? No.

Sheep remains as sheep.

 

The shepherd was there with the sheep and among the sheep

 

The sheep were comforted and encouraged by the presence of their shepherd.

Of course we already know, Psalm 23 is not just talking about sheep.

 

It is a reflection our life and journey of faith as Christian

 

For us in our time reading Psalm 23, we already know the shepherd mentioned here refers to Jesus, the shepherd of our soul.

 

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ the Son of God

 

I like to emphasis here that in Psalm 23, the most important character is the shepherd.

The most important person in our life is of course Jesus.

The most important personality in the whole of human history

 

Jesus

 

In Psalm 23, the shepherd was there for an obvious purpose – to protect and to guide the sheep.

 

Jesus is with us and among us for the same purpose

Jesus is with us and among us to protect and to guide us

 

Let us go back to history, in the days of the Gospel when Jesus lived among the people. Let’s look at Matthew 4:16

 

16 the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”

 

That was how they saw Jesus. Like the sheep in Psalm 23 recognizing the presence of their shepherd, they felt safe and secured when they saw Jesus.

The people who saw Jesus, they were not suddenly empowered to be super-hero.

People came to Jesus as they were.

Jesus received them as they were.

 

Jesus brought them out of “the valley of the shadow of death”

 

For us here, we come before Jesus as we are, and Jesus received us as we are.

We feel safe, secured, redeemed when we received Jesus into our hearts.

And according to the records of the Gospel, Jesus was betrayed, crucified and died. But He rose from the dead.

The Apostle Paul known to be an awesome preacher, he was not arguing with people Jesus did not die. In fact he preached Jesus was dead but now alive because of the resurrection power of God.

What does that mean?

 

Jesus’ promise of eternal life is guaranteed

 

40 days after Jesus was raised from the dead, He ascended to heaven.

His disciples who witnessed the event, I am sure they wished Jesus could stay longer with them in person. But Jesus went up to the clouds and off He goes back to heaven.

The disciples, they continued to live with the reality Jesus was with them and among them.

How did that happen?

 

They had the words and promises of Jesus with them

 

The early Christians were men and women of convictions and confession.

They believed Jesus, they confessed Jesus, and they lived as if Jesus is with them.

Jesus was with them and among them leading them with the promises of God.

When persecution arises in Jerusalem, the disciples were scattered everywhere but everywhere and anywhere they went, they carried with them the words and promise of Jesus.

 

Jesus was with them and among them

 

Psalm 23 is a reflection of our life as Christian.

In times of difficulties, it is so easy to feel frustrated.

In times of adversity it is so easy for us to cry “God where are you when we needed you

But we have with us the words and teaching of Jesus.

And we have among us the promises of Jesus.

Question is – where do we keep the promises of Jesus?

 

In our hearts and minds of course, and with the confession with our lips

 

As we go through our own “valley of the shadow of death” we will encounter our own fear and uncertainty.

We have no super-power of our own. We are the same person we know ourselves to be.

 

But our convictions and confession will show us where and who is our Savior

 

We are not alone.

Jesus is with us and among us protecting us and leading us with His words and promises.

Because of Jesus, we live.

Because of Jesus, we can face tomorrow.

 

Let’s read Psalm 23 again, this time I will read it in NIV

 

Psalm 23 (NIV)

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters,

3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

 

The sheep are on a journey.

We are on a journey.

Where are we going?

 

It all depends where the shepherd is leading the sheep

It all depends where Jesus is leading us

 

I like to bring your attention to v6, the ending verse of Psalm 23

 

6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

 

That is the ultimate destination of Psalm 23

Eternal fellowship with Jesus

 

That was the conviction and confession of the Psalmist when he wrote that.

And that conviction and confession was the result of his personal relationship with God.

Our basic foundation truth of Christianity teaches us that our personal relationship with Jesus matters.

It still is.

It will always be till we meet Jesus in person.

It is through our journey of faith with Jesus, our relationship with Jesus, that we experience the goodness and the presence of the true living God in our life.

Our ultimate destination is to dwell in the house of the Lord forever in eternity.

Let me read to you again the last verse of Psalm 23 –

 

6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

 

This is only possible because of the shepherd.

Jesus, the shepherd of our soul, is among us and with us to bring us to that destination.

Let’s follow Jesus all the way, no turning back.

 

 

Let’s pray

Our Father in heaven, we give you all the praise and honor.

That all of your words and promises remain true and guaranteed.

Jesus, shepherd of our soul, come lead us, and we will follow.

Lord we commit the desires of our hearts to you.

Grant us the desire to follow after you every day of our lives.

Lord we commit the thoughts of our mind unto you.

Teach us oh Lord to think of you every day of our lives.

We pray all this in the name of Jesus, the Son of the living God, and shepherd of our soul. Amen.

David Z